An EV in your home?

car-3321669_1920By now you’ve heard the buzz. Electric vehicles (EVs) are on the roads. Parking lots are designating spots specifically for EVs, complete with charging stations. Owners are even charging their EVs in their own homes.  For most individuals, this brings one question to mind:  What is it like to own an electric vehicle?

EV owners have additional responsibilities when adding an EV to their home. In exchange for eliminating trips to the gas station, EV owners will need to “refuel” their vehicle by charging the on-board battery pack.  While recharging can be done at a growing number of public charging stations, a vast majority—over 90% in fact—of charging is done at home.

For home-charging options, EV owners can utilize Level 1 and Level 2 charging.  Level 1 charging involves using an adapter (typically included with the vehicle) plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet. This charge happens slowly over the course of many hours; charging approximately 4 miles of range per hour.  Level 2 charging is the most popular at-home charging option.  EV owners will need to have a Level 2 charger—some EVs have one included with purchase, while others don’t, so be sure to ask.  Level 2 chargers are typically installed on a 40 – 50 amp, 240-volt circuit. With a Level 2 charger, charging rates increase drastically to approximately 25 miles of range per hour—easily restoring fully battery life in a matter of hours and perfect for overnight charging.

Level 2 chargers should be installed by a licensed electrician to ensure all local codes are followed.  Prior to installation, plan where you want your charger to go.  Do you typically park on one side of the garage instead of the other?  How long is the charging cord?  Will more EVs be added in the future?  Each installation is unique to the home and the EV owner, so pick the location that makes the most sense.

New EV owners can expect an increase on their energy bill.  Exactly how much will vary based on vehicle type, miles driven, etc.   An additional 300 – 400 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month is a rough average for an EV being driven 36 miles per day.  Most new EVs on the market today will require between .24 – .40 kWh/mile, meaning for every mile driven, those EVs would require .24-.40 kWh in charging.  At first glance, 400 kWh seems like a lot—after all, using 12₵/kWh, that adds up to $48 per month; or $576 per year.  But what is saved by avoiding the gas pump?  Let’s assume the EV replaced a similar-sized car averaging 35 miles-per-gallon (mpg).  Gas costs $2.75/gallon and 36 miles per day.  Over the course of a month, refueling that vehicle would cost approximately $85, or $1020 per year.  That’s a savings of $444 a year for an EV!  More miles driven equals more savings!  The main point here is while your electric bill will go up, you’ll easily make up the difference eliminating the gas bill.

Speaking of your electric bill, many electric utilities offer a variety of incentives for both new and existing EV owners.  These incentives range from cash toward a vehicle purchase or in-home charger installation to special time-of-use rates offering significantly reduced energy costs during non-peak/overnight hours to promote off-peak charging when energy is widely available on the grid. For more details, contact your electric provider for options available to you!

Adam Westaby is a Member Services Associate specializing in load management and key accounts at Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog articles are often submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information, please call 715-835-2526 or email jen@cvhomebuilders.com

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